Monday, May 4, 2015

{thoughts} keep moving forward

Wearing: Reformation Kenya Dress

I have been very lucky in the sense that I have always had an overly-loving, older generation of family members on my father's side in my life. These people were a staple in my youth, a foundation in my morals, and were really my idols. In the last 3 weeks I lost the remaining loves, my grandmother, followed by my Pop Pop - a true story of love - and it's sent me for a bit of a trip. No, not in a pity-party sense [though it may seem that by me even writing this]. More of an awareness of being in that part of my life that I don't have these storytellers to continue to teach + guide me. 

Many of the things I do in my day-to-day life I always thought of them. Being excited to tell them about a new career path... letting them know that I finally found the love that I've always hoped would come along [one that they would actually approve of]... sharing the joy in family member's new additions + milestones...

It's a change I know we must all go through, but it's bittersweet to have a bit of an ending here in this sense of what family is. Instead of picking up the phone on a Sunday evening to check in, instead, maybe looking up and talking to them. Needing to remember that while I selfishly want them here with me, they need to move on. That I need to graciously follow in the footsteps that they have laid in front of me. I guess it's just more of a realization that I need to start creating things for myself. But first, remembering their beautiful story...

A Love Story.

Their love was one that spanned just under 70 years. Seven decades full of precious memories. Stories that no memory box's delicate bindings could hold safely.

- - -

Phone cords transferring teen love from spoken lips to listening ears.

A delicate pink bow holding together a perfect bouquet of white flowers in a blushing girl's arms.

Postcards and letters that found their way across oceans during war, and tissues that captured stray tears that would form waiting between each delivery.

Aprons splattered from home cooked meals, above the standard of most Italian kitchens.

Sounds of coins clanking together, held safely for tomorrow's, next month's, or next year's desires.

Photos that captured a first child's red hair, curling perfectly around bright, happy eyes. 

The laughter, and sometimes tears over scraped knees and elbows, of now two perfect red headed children playing in the yard.

The joy on their faces when their father would walk through the front door after a hard day, joining the rest of the family around the table. Making it all complete.

- - -

Their love was not just between each other, though... no... hearts like these had too much to give for only each other. Their hearts were seen through the simple gesture of open arms towards a beautiful stranger that found the other half of her soul in the eyes of their son. A tall man that was always given acceptance, as they knew he was the one to make their daughter's dreams a reality.

Unconditional love to those four girls that would run towards them when they would enter a room. Helplessly fighting with each other over who would get the most attention, forgetting that they would all be lucky that day. Just attention, you ask? Nah. A day spent with them would be filled with tight hugs, stomach aches following laughing fits, and the sound of velcro strips being pulled apart by tiny fingers. Over, and over again.

- - -

The love these two souls had for each other didn't just make each other lucky, the special love they created for each other set the bar for those who followed in their path.  We are the lucky ones. The lucky ones that have two saints watching over us, reminding us to find joy in life's simple moments. The reminder to love each other and those around us, always. The nudge needed when uncertainty arises. The reminder of how important laughter is to keeping one's self young. The reminder that the love and endless support from that other being, who's hand will be intertwined with ours tightly 'til the end, is the most beautiful and special gift on this earth.

This is just Chapter One of many, many more beautiful stories.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

{in my kitchen} spiced negroni

I am not, and will not pretend that I am a cocktail aficionado. My cocktail does not need to take 20 minutes to create. It does not need to be crafted and treated as if it were a precious newborn puppy. I am merely an enthusiast that likes a well-balanced cocktail made from fresh ingredients - not kick you in the face strong, but not watered down either.

If you have followed along for awhile, you have only seen cocktails from me with Gin as the main spirit. While I love to sip on scotch or a good whiskey on the rocks at home after work [Whistle Pig is my current kick, which I will say is definitely worth the investment], the only cocktail ingredients I constantly have on stock [besides an Aperol Spritz - DANGER] is for a Negroni. 

What am I really craving though is a Negroni that I had at Junoon with my friend a few weeks back during one of the best dinners I've had in a long time. I am not going to ramble on about the incredible experience I had touring the restaurant and spice room with her and her Father, and the fact that while an Indian restaurant there is NO food odor to be found... but what I do need to talk about is the simple addition of Star Anise to the cocktail.  

What I usually do, per Junoon's execution, is put (1) one spice into the top of my ice cubes before freezing [for the sake of this photo and the sun setting, this one is a floater].  That's it - all this calls for on top of the classic Negroni recipe below is the Star Anise ice cube. What it does is, when really good and fresh, is create this perfectly subtle taste when sipping, as well as allows the aroma of the spice to gently please the nose senses. 

Most classics should be allowed to stay as it. But this update, for me, is far superior than the first.

Negroni Cocktail Recipe tailored via He Spoke Style
  • 1.25 oz Gin [don't go with Hendrick's or The Botanist here, a less sweet Gin like Dorothy Parker or Aviation work better]
  • 1.25 oz Campari
  • 1.25 oz Sweet Vermouth [refrigerate after opening!]*
  • 1 fresh Star Anise [my first batch were not as fresh as the second and it was a clear difference. splurge if necessary for quality]
    • Add to the drink after making, or prep in large cocktail ice cubes for a conversation starter
*The key here is equal parts of the above three

photos: Robin West

Other Gin ideas from my kitchen in case this is a bit strong for you:

Muddled Strawberry cocktailperfect for warmer months


- XO

Monday, March 2, 2015

{beauty} winter skin, help me!

I have been using products from Dr. Jart for a few years now and have always been very happy with my results. That being said, there is still a time when a woman needs to revamp her skincare routine to battle the elements. Those elements for me have been 3+ months of constant snow, -20 degree wind chills that leave you moaning out loud to yourself on your walk to work like a crazy person, and dry apartment radiators that leave you in nothing but shorts and a t-shirt. 

My face has been in need of extra help, so I decided to try Sephora after work a week ago and headed straight to the Dr. Jart section praying for something that could help. After staring blankly for a few minutes, this help came in the form of a Ceramidin cream that literally heard my prayers [I mean, how perfect is the packaging?!]. I usually don't go for a face moisturizer in the form of a heavier cream, but I was willing to give it a shot.

I don't know about you, but for me, once I put a smidgen of powder over my BB cream to even everything out, I was always left with a slightly caked appearance along my T-zone. I have been using this day and night for just over a week, and for the first time in ages my skin still looks smooth and healthy after putting on my morning face and I couldn't be happier. Idk if I can transition a cream into the warmer months, but until then, this face saver is coming with me everywhere I go.

photos: Robin West

- XO

Friday, February 27, 2015

{on the street} Fashion Month Cold Front

This is the first time that I have been intrigued to follow the street style during Fashion Week(s)/Month for the Fall/Winter collections. In the past, especially last year, you had attention-hungry girls walking around during a blizzard in open toed shoes, bare legs, camisoles and no coats. Now, while we did still see a bit of that this year [only in NYC, of course. shame on you!], for the most part the fashion elite set out to the streets and created beautiful stories through impeccable layering of colors, textures and multiple pieces of outerwear.

And while I still crave the times that photographers didn't just focus on these elite and decided to highlight the lesser knowns that attend the shows in one's OWN clothes [yes, too many influencers and "street style stars" strut in borrowed pieces that are quickly returned], I am happy to see that many of the attention-seekers that treat Lincoln Center and other show neighborhoods like the Grammys [wearing fashion vs. showcasing one's own style] were cut from many roundups. 

images by Tommy Ton

- XO

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

{photo diary} Venezia

Last month was a magical month where I decided to live the life I always dreamed - run away during my Birthday/Thanksgiving week and travel. The last few years I have seen far too many trips crumble before my very eyes because of changed work trips, or wishy washy plans with friends. But not this year! I figured having Italian roots, spending the holidays in Italia was 'close enough'.

Because I've become slightly burnt out during the week and turned into a lazy creative in my personal life, I am sharing a 'curated' collection of photos from my wanderings around Venice. Not that the other magnificent findings are not worthy of sharing, but because there is something magical about this city that is incomparable to anywhere else. 

10 years ago I was there with my group of girlfriends, but only for about 5/6 hours and I don't really remember what we saw other than a Dali exhibit and San Marcos. Was only there for about 24 hours this time, but saw the city a different way this time - was greeted by the Airbnb host at the water taxi (thank god bc I never would have found the apartment down the maze of alleys)... walked along the canal for a Spritz at a lovely bar in Hotel Metropole... had the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner at CoVino (the owner, who was also our server, had treats from his mom, so it was a family meal)... took in San Marco at night, lit up even more by the reflections bouncing off of the damp night rain... woke up to the sound of church bells and light coming through the windows... got a lil boozed up at Harry's (a Bellini for Hemingway and a stiff Negroni as the locals do)... and ventured off across the Rialto Bridge to scour a belly full of Cichetti at Cantina Do Mori (THIS was worth the trip). 

If a photo speaks one thousand words, the city of Venice must speak Billions of words and emotions to each passerby.

photos: Robin West

- XO

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

{holidays} gift guide for him

Ok, now that we talked about what we want, let's talk shopping for the men in our lives. I have to say, I had it really easy growing up - my father is a music addict and all he ever wanted was CDs. There was a time that I would get a list of things to find, but since you could not find it anywhere, it turned into a gift card that he could explore with. I don't consider this lazy because it's something I knew he wanted, and something that always makes him happy. That IS the whole idea of gifting, isn't it?

So that was my foundation. And I have rarely needed to buy a guy in my life gifts as I usually ran away from them by the time the holidays came around. But what if you DO need to buy the special man in your life something? What if he has really good taste? And it's very specific? Or you just want to show him that you tried to surprise him with something that you think he'd appreciate?

Whether it's something small, something a bit fun, or something you both can enjoy, here's my roundup of dapper-approved items that will get you off the naughty list.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

{holidays} gift guide for her

I really believed that I was an easy person to shop for - I like so many different things, how hard can it be! Then I realized, looking through someone else's eyes, that not having a very specific style can be hard for others to pin point if I would like it or not. And I buy things for myself all too often when I want them. 

I was gifted a gorgeous Smythson Passport Cover for my recent trip abroad and it's one of my favorite things I've been given in quite some time. It's something that I've always wanted and desired, but something I never would have thought to buy myself on my own. This is really a "duh" realization and so obvious, but this year I'm trying to think in those terms as much as possible for the holiday season. 

How about some Le Labo parfum that has been made right in front of you? Or a monogrammed zipper case for the soon-to-be bride? Or a pair of badass sneakers with a special someone's initials on them (cough, cough, hint, hint). As we in the Advertising realm would say, a little "surprise and delight"!

Obviously, there are always those gifts that are a bit more extravagant and special and you can never go wrong with a nice bag or some fanciful jewelry. But, especially with a sister who is going to be changing her name in the coming months, I'm adjusting my radar to gifts that are a bit more personalized and things that someone would maybe not consider on their own. 

What's on YOUR list this year?

Saturday, October 18, 2014

{side by side} graphic shadows

image 1, 2